American Brendan McHugh Delays Law Career to Chase Olympic Dream

For Team USA’s Brendan McHugh, the corporate world can wait. Until September of 2016.

McHugh is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and Washington and Lee School of Law, and has accepted a job with the Washington, DC law firm, Drinker Biddle & Reath, with whom he interned during the summer of 2014.

McHugh deferred his start date at Drinker Biddle & Reath in order to train for the 2015 World Championships in Kazan and then to try to make the 2016 US Olympic Team for Rio. His LinkedIn profile reads:

From May 2015 until August 2016 I will be training to make the United States Olympic Team. I have accepted a position at Drinker Biddle & Reath, LLP that begins September 2016.

McHugh finished 18th in prelims this morning at the 2015 World Championships in Kazan with 27.62, a half-second off the 27.10 he went in prelims of the 2014 Phillips 66 National Championships to set the U.S. Open Record.

McHugh told SwimSwam in an interview earlier this summer:

“Unless swimming becomes extremely profitable for me, I think 2016 is it. I think the qualifying system for the national team this year is great. I like that it considers a lot of swims rather than just nationals.

“I personally would love to see the 50 strokes become Olympic events. Why should only freestylers be the ones able to make a living that way? And personally I think sprints are what the general public likes to see. People always watch the 100m in track because drop dead sprints are all-out and exciting.”


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Maryland Swim

I strongly agree with Brendan on recognition for the 50s on stroke events since Americans are currently swimming these in international competition. Can’t pretend they don’t exist.


Agreed that 50s of strokes should be given more stock. Why should a 50 freestyler be able to swim in the Olympics but a 50 breaststroker can’t?


Why should they take 6x 100 and 6x 200 freestylers but only 2 breastrokers in 100 and 200?

If they add 50’s of strokes then FINA will take away some events….guaranteed. My problem is 50 people don’t have to actually train. There is NO aerobic base needed for 50 swimmers. Sorry not a fan.

Steve-O Nolan

Completely right. Prior to World Champs, Florent Manadaou hadn’t been in a pool since the last Olympics.

Maryland Swim

My point was not to necessarily add the 50 breast to the Olympic events (although I would like to see that), but rather have the 50s of other stroke events recognized for swimmers to get a spot on the US National team roster to allow them the training and other benefits associated with that spot. Again, this is to recognize that Americans do swim the 50 of stroke events at competitions such as Worlds.


50 is plenty long enough a race to require some aerobic ability. Not to mention all sorts of other training. I don’t love them more because all the top swimmers swim more or less the same speed when watching with the naked eye.

Maryland Swim

Agree that it does look like a long straight line across the pool on the 50s most of the time. I do like the 1500 though since it gives me time to go to the bathroom and get a coffee and a snack and get back in time to watch the finish. I thought I had missed the finish the other day with the women’s 1500 and that they were just showing the warm down pool, but then I realized it was just Katie swimming one way while everyone else was swimming the opposite direction.

northern sue

I listened to a British swimming podcast, and a female announcer made a similar comment about the 800. She thought she had missed most of the race because she came in and Ledecky was so far ahead, but it was just Katie jumping out to a big lead.


You’re right, and I also think that we should drop the 800 freestyle, the 1500 freestyle, and the 400s free and IM. There’s almost no strength and power training, let alone start practice involved with those distance “swimmers. ” Also, come to think about it, there’s no reason to have breaststrokers too. At the world stage they all have flexible knees. I dont want to watch a competitive knee flexibility race!! Drop breaststroke. 200s are also another thing that needs to be eliminated. 200 swimmers barely ever need to train their hand-eye coordination. Who wants to watch a bunch of people who cant even catch well swim in a pool? Backstroke? Backstrokers barely even train their bicycling base. Eliminating backstroke… Read more »




Good luck Brendan! Philly (or south jersey, whatever…) represent! I’m pulling for you!

About Anne Lepesant

Anne Lepesant

Anne Lepesant is the mother of four daughters, all of whom swim/swam in college. With an undergraduate degree from Princeton (where she was an all-Ivy tennis player) and an MBA from INSEAD, she worked for many years in the financial industry, both in France and the U.S. Anne is currently …

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